Some mascots become so synonymous with a brand that they can’t be separated.
It’s rare that a brand hits mascot gold. Some brands are lucky if they create a character that connects with the public for half a decade, let alone five — or even a full century. Sometimes a character just connects, though, and at least one of the following mascots has been around for a century or more. Read on to learn more about these oldie-but-goodie brand mascots that have become so engrained in culture, they practically are their brand.
1. Elsie the Cow
The Borden Dairy Company created Elsie the Cow in 1936, making her one of the oldest, and most recognizable, brands mascots in U.S. history. During the 1940s, when Elsie was voiced by Hope Emerson, she was more well-known than many human celebrities of the time.
The cartoon mascot has had a few facelifts over the year, but since her creation has always remained part of the brand’s logo and a central part of the Borden Dairy brand.
2. Miss Chiquita Banana
Miss Chiquita Banana has been the charming mascot of banana brand Chiquita since 1944. At first, Miss Chiquita was an actual banana dressed like a woman. Then, in 1967, artist Oscar Grillo – the creator of the Pink Panther – transformed her into the real woman we all believed her to be.
The easily recognizable image of Miss Chiquita Banana has been labeling the company’s products since 1963. In 1994, Miss Chiquita celebrated her 50th year as the brand’s mascot with a huge “Good Will, Good Nutrition” Tour. Miss Chiquita is still going strong in her 70th year.
3. Trix Rabbit
It’s hard to believe that the iconic Trix Rabbit has been after General Mills’ fruity cereal since 1957. For years, his efforts were foiled by young children in advertisements that made the phrase “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids” infamous.
The Rabbit did finally get to taste his object of desire in 1976 and 1980 through box-top voting campaigns. In spite of achieving his goal on those two occasions, the Trix Rabbit remains the brand’s well-known mascot 57 years later.
4. Morton Salt Umbrella Girl
The Umbrella Girl just celebrated her 100th anniversary as the mascot and logo for the Morton Salt company. The character, and the famous slogan, “When It Rains It Pours,” were created in 1914 as part of an effort to show that the salt would still pour in wet weather conditions. Unlike the salt, the idea stuck.
A century later, the Umbrella Girl has become one of the longest-running and most recognizable brand mascots in U.S. history.
5. Snap, Crackle, and Pop
The onomatopoeia-named mascots of Kellogg’s Rice Crispies cereal have enjoyed their longevity since the 1930s. Originally, Snap was alone on cereal boxes and in ads, but in 1936, he was joined by Crackle and Pop. History, as they say, was made.
Some 80 years later, the trio are still the face of Rice Crispies and have evolved gradually to be more human-like as they continue their run as some of the most-beloved mascots ever created.
6. Chicken of the Sea Mermaid
The Chicken of the Sea mermaid has graced cans of tuna since 1952. In those 62 years, she has never had a name.
In celebration of the brand’s 100th anniversary this year, Chicken of the Sea is running a contest to name the mermaid. The winner will receive $10,000 and the honor of finally bestowing a real name upon the sea beauty.
7. Jolly Green Giant
The jovial Jolly Green Giant has been encouraging consumers to eat their vegetables since 1925. The Green Giant brand itself was created by General Mills to help promote some unusually large peas.
The Jolly Green Giant walked his verdant fields alone until 1973, when the brand created his sidekick, Sprout. Since then, Sprout has often been depicted as an apprentice learning how to take care of the vegetables.
Some of these mascots honestly surprise us with their longevity, but not the giant. We’re sure kids still do what we did when we were young: Confuse him with the Incredible Hulk.
8. The Michelin Man
Born in 1898, The Michelin Man is the oldest mascot on this list. Although the tire man is known to many around the world as The Michelin Man, the mascot’s name is actually "Bibendum" from the Latin phrase "Nunc est bibendum,” or “now is the time to drink.” The Michelin Man received this name from the very first poster he appeared in, in which he was holding a drink.
Michelin founders and brothers André and Edouard Michelin came up with the idea while attending the Universal Exhibition in Lyon. The brothers came across a large stack of tires that Edouard believed to resemble an armless man. From that idea, the Michelin Man was born, and he has carried the brand well for the past 116 years.
9. Mr. Clean
The Proctor & Gamble mascot Mr. Clean is one of the most recognizable, and arguably one of the creepiest, mascots on this list. There’s just something about the thought of that muscular bald man — who made his debut in 1958, promoting the all-purpose cleaner of the same name — stalking us through the streak-free reflection of a job well-done that bothers us.
Clearly, we’re in the minority. Since his introduction, the Mr. Clean product line has expanded considerably and the mascot has become even more famous. In 2007, the Mr. Clean brand even broke into the car wash business, and it now has Mr. Clean car washes nationwide.
10. Mickey Mouse
The Mickey Mouse character has become so iconic, it’s almost hard to think “Disney” without seeing him. The two are nearly synonymous, and that’s exactly how a great mascot should work.
Mr. Mouse made his debut in the 1928 cartoon “Steamboat Willie.” From there, Mickey’s likeness began appearing in innumerable cartoons, movies, and, eventually, the merchandise and branding for Disney World and Disneyland theme parks.
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